I was recently chatting with a friend who owns his own business. He mentioned that he'd been writing some content on his blog and was thinking of hiring a combination of a writer and a customer service rep to “do content marketing” soon.
Instantly, my head starting spinning, and I began feeling a little stressed. Success in content requires a holistic approach and a commitment to consistency. And while his intentions were good, I could already tell that he wasn't setting up his team or future content marketer/customer service hybrid for success.
And it’s not just my friend. So many companies say they're “doing” content marketing, but they’ve got it all wrong. These are some of the most common mistakes companies make that keep them from seeing actual results from their content marketing:
Your leaders and key employees are full of valuable insights that can and should be used for content. However, these employees are also extremely busy, and content creation is time-consuming. It's a full-time job and can be stressful without a full teamPlus, even if they had the time, writing isn't for everyone. Our CEO, for example, has plenty of good ideas for content, but he readily admits that he’s not a natural-born writer.
That’s why we created our knowledge sharing process, which streamlines content creation and makes it easier for key employees to share their insights without worrying about everything that goes along with content creation.
This isn't to say that your CEO or president or whoever can’t ever write for your blog. If those people love writing, can do it efficiently, and have some free time to create content that they're passionate about, then that’s great!
However, it’s probably not the best use of their time to be responsible for creating everything you publish — not to mention all the other elements that go into good content marketing, like strategy, editing, and distribution.
Content marketing is a broad term, and it should encompass all the different elements that go into doing it well. Sure, a writer can also be a content marketer — but just because you’ve got someone on your team who can write well doesn’t mean he or she is a content marketing whiz.
Maybe you expect your customer service reps or all the folks in your office with marketing degrees to also be content marketers. They can handle it, right? Maybe. Maybe they are great writers, but there are two things you can bet on for sure: Asking them to also write your content is going to distract them from their day-to-day work, and you're not going to see the results you want.
Making content marketing the responsibility of anyone in your company who can write leads to content without any kind of strategy to guide it. That content also tends to sit unused because your writer can't also be responsible for distributing your content (in addition to whatever his or her primary role is).
Writing is a component of content marketing, but it's not the only skill you need. That's why an effective content marketing team brings together more than just a bunch of writers. Skills like content strategy, distribution, analytics, and others are equally — if not sometimes more — important.
If you say you do “content marketing” and your blog is a library of press releases sprinkled with a few pictures of your last company outing, please stop.
That is not content marketing. Content marketing focuses on your audience. It builds trust among your audience members by helping them solve their problems and offering education. The only person who wants to read about your company picnic is your mom, and I can tell you right now she’s just doing it to be nice.
By now, you're probably thinking that I’m just talking about people who suck at creating content and that you're creating great content, so you're in the clear, right? Wrong. Good content isn’t all it takes. You’ve got to tie all that good content together and use it to accomplish a larger goal.
Most companies are able to bucket their content into one of three main objectives: thought leadership, SEO, or lead generation. Yes, content can do all three, but to make the biggest difference in any one area, you’ve got to select one goal and focus on it.
Think brand awareness is a main objective? Think again. The problem with brand awareness is that it’s really hard to track. It’s more of an added bonus that comes along with achieving one of the other goals I mentioned. If you’re looking for that cold, hard ROI, you’ll need to look beyond awareness and start focusing on a measurable goal.
Do you know how hard it is to write and edit your own work? Editing your own content often means you overlook mistakes and miss opportunities to make your work better. Now, maybe you have a unicorn on your team who's fantastic at both. Good for you! But that talent doesn’t come often.
If you don’t want to hire a full-time proofreader, the least you can do is have another person on your team give your content a once-over before setting it free into the world. Audiences value well-written content, and a second set of eyes can really help make your content better.
News flash: No one is cruising your blog on a regular basis, just waiting to see if you’ve got a new post. If you want people to see your content, you’ve got to share it with them.
Focus on building your following on social media, share your content with your followers on a regular basis, share it with your team and tell them how to use it, share it with your sales team to use as a resource in the sales process, start an email newsletter. Don’t just let your content sit in a graveyard (aka your dusty old blog). DO SOMETHING with it!
Content marketing isn’t just a tool by and for your marketing team. It can be used as a tool to help your entire company.
You can use it to enable the sales process and empower your sales team to spend less time educating and more time actually selling. Your HR team can use it to educate prospective employees about your company and industry during the hiring process. It can help with investor relations, customer service, internal communications — you name it, and content can help. If you're not using it for all it can be used for, then seeing results is going to be tough.
Content marketing is hard, and it takes a lot of work to do it well. Too many companies don’t see the ROI they need from their content because they're not approaching it correctly. But if you avoid these common mistakes and execute a content marketing strategy properly, your content can be a major asset for your whole team.